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Open Access Analytic perspective

A tutorial in estimating the prevalence of disease in humans and animals in the absence of a gold standard diagnostic

Fraser I Lewis* and Paul R Torgerson

Author Affiliations

Section of Epidemiology, VetSuisse Faculty, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 270, Zürich, Switzerland, CH 8057

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Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 2012, 9:9  doi:10.1186/1742-7622-9-9

Published: 28 December 2012

Abstract

Epidemiological methods for estimating disease prevalence in humans and other animals in the absence of a gold standard diagnostic test are well established. Despite this, reporting apparent prevalence is still standard practice in public health studies and disease control programmes, even though apparent prevalence may differ greatly from the true prevalence of disease. Methods for estimating true prevalence are summarized and reviewed. A computing appendix is also provided which contains a brief guide in how to easily implement some of the methods presented using freely available software.